By Hibah Khan|
March 2, 2022|
7 min read
Whether you want to help shape the world or simply learn a little more about your environmental footprint, this list of sustainable books will help you get started in preparation for World Book Day!
When it comes to climate change, it’s easy to bounce back and forth between hope and despair. One thing that could help you learn practical solutions and focus on sustainability is implementing reading into your daily life. Choose books that will inspire you to be the change you want to see.
Stories focusing on sustainability are about understanding, progressive shifts, and action. They introduce us to role models and encourage us to envision the future we want. They educate and also empower us by laying out specific steps we can take to get started.
This list includes some must-read sustainability books from fast fashion, personal memoirs and books to inspire and teach the little ones. These are the best books on sustainable living that will show you the way forward.
Best Environment and Sustainability Books for Children:
Save the Scraps (Save The Earth Series) by Bethany Stahl
The heartwarming environmental lesson in Save the Scraps will stay with the reader for a lifetime. With beautiful and charming illustrations, this is a book that adults will enjoy reading with their children over and over again as they learn about the benefits of compost. An excellent picture story to read this World Book Day!
Save the Scraps is an educational and humorous story about two children who learn the values and how to compost with the help of their wiggly worm friend.
– Recognize scraps throughout the book.
– Respond to reading comprehension questions.
– Discover how to start a compost bin.
Scuba Matt’s Underwater Adventure by Echo Morgan
An amusing and educational story that will inspire future underwater explorers and protectors. Scuba Matt invites you to join him on an ocean adventure to meet and learn about sea animals, marine life, and the ocean. Readers are transported to a magical underwater world where they encounter a variety of sea animals and marine life such as coral reefs, clownfish, stingrays, sharks, octopus, jellyfish, and more.
This playful rhyming book is designed to excite and entertain young readers while also providing fun facts that older children and adults will enjoy.
We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers (Charlie and Lola Series) by Lauren Child
This is a great, engaging book to introduce the topic of recycling to young children. When Lola declares that she is “throwing everything away” in order to avoid being messy, Charlie advises her to recycle “because if we throw everything away, then we will all be completely buried under a massive, huge pile of garbage.” The pair creates a “tree counter,” adding new leaves to the branches every time they recycle, with the goal of eventually planting a real tree.
This adventure-filled book is printed on FSC-certified paper and includes recycling tips as well as a tree poster similar to Lola’s, so kids can keep track of their recycling projects and contribute to saving the planet on their own.
Editors Review: 5/5, keep in mind I read this when I was 9, but HAD TO revisit when I was curating this list. The early 2000’s nostalgia made me wistful about my younger self and reminds me a lot of when my mum would sign me up and my siblings up for the Summer Reading Challenge at our local library. This book is as fun and adorable as I remembered it to be. I loved the illustrations and all praise to Lauren for effortlessly conveying a great message about the importance of recycling.
The EARTH Book by Todd Parr
“I turn off the water while I brush my teeth because I love fish and I want the oceans to stay blue.”
Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental preservation in this eco-friendly picture book with his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity. This book includes lots of simple, smart ideas for how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good, from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways.
The book also includes a poster with tips and reminders on how kids can ‘go green’ every day. This sweet homage to our beautiful planet, which is both whimsical and heartfelt, is sure to inspire readers of all ages to do their part in keeping the Earth happy and healthy.
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg was 15 years old when she decided to skip school one day to protest climate change. Her actions caused a worldwide movement, inspiring millions of young people to go on strike for our planet, urging governments to listen, and earning her a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
This book contains a collection of Greta’s speeches from Capitol Hill, to the United Nations, delivering a profound and meaningful message of hope that this planet will have a future if everyone listens and begins caring.
A wonderful book to read to children, as the message is one that will live on in the words of our future generations. The book also acknowledges and embraces her Asperger’s syndrome and celebrates the strengths it has given her, referring to it as a gift rather than a barrier.
I Do My Share Because I Care by Adriane Marie
A wonderful children’s book that promotes sustainability! Kids will enjoy reading this brightly coloured, rhyming story that promotes reducing, reusing, and recycling.
I Do My Share Because I Care, is about encouraging green habits to protect the natural environment. Young readers will appreciate learning about simple ways to care for our beautiful planet. This book’s themes include sustainability, climate change, and eco-consciousness. Little ones will enjoy learning some eco-friendly habits thanks to the colourful, engaging content and illustrations.
Best Environment and Sustainability Books for Adults:
How Bad Are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee
If you follow our TikTok, you would have seen this in a video of ours about books to read, if you want to save the planet! How bad are bananas was first published in 2009, when most of us were hearing the term “carbon footprint” for the first time. Berners-Lee sifts through mountains of data to determine how carbon-centric everyday activities are.
This new edition (published 2020) includes all new figures and introduces many topics that have become commonplace in modern life, such as Twitter, the Cloud, Bitcoin, electric bikes and cars and even space tourism. Berners-Lee carefully examines each area and provides us with the figures we need to manage and reduce our own carbon footprint, as well as lobbying companies, businesses and the government. His findings, which he presents in simple and even entertaining prose, are frequently surprising. They are also necessary if we are to address climate change.
This is a handy reference book for getting a rough idea of how big your carbon footprint is and learning how to reduce it.
A Bigger Picture by Vanessa Nakate
Vanessa Nakate, a leading climate justice activist, brings her bold, fearless spirit, fresh perspective, and rising star credentials to the most pressing issue of our time. In A Bigger Picture, she shared her story as a young Ugandan woman who sees how the climate crisis affected her community disproportionately. Simultaneously, she observes that activists from African nations and the global south are not heard in the same way that activists from white nations are. Inspired by Greta Thunberg of Sweden, Nakate became Uganda’s first ‘Fridays For Future’ protestor in 2019, awakening to her personal power and claiming a commanding political voice within herself.
The mere presence of Nakate has exposed prevalent inequalities within the climate change movement. Nakate’s image was cropped out of a photo by the Associated Press in January 2020, while she was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as one of five international speakers, including Thunberg. The photograph included four other activists, all of whom were white. It emphasised Nakate’s ongoing call for environmental and social justice on behalf of those who have been silenced in the climate debate and are now demanding to be heard.
Editors Review: 5/5, highly recommend this book! Such an important story featuring and highlighting the voices from the Global South that are frequently left out of the climate change conversation, despite being on the frontlines of climate disaster. From Vanessa herself describing the devastating effects of the climate crisis on her native Uganda to the book addressing the harsh realities of other frontline environmental activists across Africa. This book provides a vital insight into how the climate crisis is ruining lives and livelihoods right now and the enormous acts of courage families and communities are taking to fight it.
Vanessa is an incredibly inspiring woman who has done an amazing job of making this book’s message very accessible, urgent, and relevant.
Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver
If you read our article on ‘The Art Of Slow Living’ you would know that living a simple life extends beyond the physical and materialistic list; it resonates deeper within the soul to simplify it. Carver teaches us how to pursue practical minimalism so that we can create more with less—more space, more time, and even more love. She invites us to look at the big picture, figure out what’s most important to us, and reclaim lightness and ease by getting rid of everything that isn’t necessary.
There are some decluttering tips in the book, but it’s much more about dealing with the emotional side of letting go, which is often the most difficult part. Clearing out our clutter and slowing down our schedules should be more about retraining your heart to know what it truly needs rather than simply saying no or filling up a bin.
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
Sustainable books for adults don’t always need to be non-fiction to pass along a message. Migrations is set in a near future in which most of the world’s wildlife has died out due to climate change. Franny Stone sets out to track the world’s last Arctic terns as they make their final migration to Antarctica. The novel shifts from Franny’s present, in which she sails on a boat with a number of funny, strange crew members who become a family to her, to all the love, passion, and tragedy of her past, which is gradually revealed throughout the novel.
This book, unlike most other environmental dystopias, is not urgent or panicked. It is, in fact, a quiet novel. A subtly sad story about a woman and her grief. A love story, not just between people but for the planet.
Claire Foy and Benedict Cumberbatch are teaming up to adapt the timely novel, but no release date has been set as of yet.
How To Break Up With Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo
You’ve likely heard the statistics: global clothing production has nearly doubled in the last 15 years, and an estimated 300,000 tonnes of used garments ends up in UK landfills each year.
Fast fashion is the ultimate toxic relationship. It’s bad news for the environment, our brains and our bank accounts. We can’t keep doing this.. We need to change our shopping habits. Journalist Lauren Bravo, loves clothes more than anything else, but she’s put an end to her love affair with fast fashion in search of a slower, simpler way of dressing.
How to Break Up with Fast Fashion guides and encourages you in changing your mindset, rediscovering your wardrobe, and embracing more sustainable shopping methods such as clothes swaps and charity shops. Lauren inspires you to repair, recycle, and give your unwanted items a new lease on life without sacrificing your style. The book is full of refreshing honesty and realistic advice. Because fashion belongs to everyone, but no outfit should cost the earth.
Editors Review: 4/5, as a millennial fashion graduate; fast fashion was embedded inside of me. Going to university and seeing everyone in trendy, new outfits everyday was something I quickly adapted to and started to practise (not my proudest moment). Not only was this the worst idea of my life, it cost me a lot.. I came across this book during the pandemic, when we were at home and not physically going to university and when I say this book changed me for the better I 1000% mean it. I loved the tips she provided on reducing our consumption and put her advice into practice. Minus 1 star because sometimes she got a little bit repetitive – other than that life changing!
We hope you enjoyed our list; check out our TikTok on our must-read sustainable books!
Now it’s time for you to choose one of these excellent books on sustainability and get reading!